A couple of months ago I wrote about some of my family’s favorite adventure vacation spots. Well, since it’s turning out to be a long, hot summer with no break in gas prices in sight, I thought I’d share a few more laid-back locales that are big on nature adventure and family fun.
Lewis and Clark Caverns, Montana
Montana’s first state park features one of the largest limestone cave systems in the West. These spectacular caverns, filled with stalactites, stalagmites and helictites are naturally air-conditioned and electrically lighted for a safe and comfortable guided visit that takes visitors on a two-mile walk through this subterranean wonderland. Kids may even thrill to a few bats along the way. Camping and cabins are adjacent, on the Jefferson River, one of the Missouri River headwaters.
Wekiwa Springs State Park, Florida
We explored this 7,000 acre nature preserve just outside Orlando by canoe, to decompress after a Disney World visit a few years back. When we asked our kids which they liked better – Disney or Wekiwa – our son, then 7, said he “could not pick.” We took that as big applause for the natural world! The crystal-clear springs and lazy Wekiva River, a federally designated Wild and Scenic River, are home to a host of wildlife including alligators, great blue herons, egrets, river otters, turtles, and even Florida black bears. Guided and self-directed canoe and kayak trips are available, starting at just $15 for two hours. Sixty campsites are available at the park.
Blue Hill Peninsula, Maine
We rented a cabin near here and fell in love with this tranquil slice of the Maine coast, well away from the frenzy of Acadia National Park. A July hike to the top of Blue Hill, a gentle mountain just outside the town of the same name, afforded chances all along the trail to pick wild blueberries. The Maine Environmental Research Institute (MERI) Center for Marine Studies offers ecological cruises for all ages, including whale watching and puffin sighting, out of Blue Hill Bay. In nearby Brooksville we visited The Good Life Center at Forest Farm to learn about Helen and Scott Nearing’s pioneering venture.